* UPDATE 050315: London Fields Brewery has made its brewing staff in London Fields redundant and boosted its sales division as it buys in beer made in Lincolnshire and the home counties breweries. An LFB selling point used to be that its beers were “hand-crafted in Hackney”.
YOU HAVE to give some credit to London Fields Brewery in its time of trouble.
To say that ales are “out of stock” because of “warehouse issues” when its founder has been arrested in a dawn raid at his home as, meanwhile, a forklift truck has been shovelling equipment and papers out of the brewery and into a lorry to be removed for analysis by the Revenue and Customs shows a certain sang froid.
Warehouse issues, eh? The truth is a little more colourful: Jules Whiteway, who runs the brewery, was sentenced in 2004 to 12 years in prison for leading a drugs gang – and had to return to court a few weeks ago because he owed millions of pounds.
Whiteway was a trained pilot. In between coke-and-sex orgies in Hoxton, he specialised in flying cocaine from Spain to England. What kind of plane he used is not known. Perhaps it is idle to speculate, but what a carrier would have been one of the ex-RAF V-bombers offered not that long ago for public sale.
Allowed out of jail on licence several years before the sentence was due to end, he set up the beer business. Last week, however, a Revenue official said its officers had arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of “cheating the Revenue” of VAT.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court in November this year 2014 gave the private-school-educated businessman – full name Julian de Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson – more time to repay the money.
The brewery has not responded to repeated requests for a comment.
Hamish Scott 041214
* Main picture: VAT inspectors and a man leave the brewery
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